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A Trip to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Weekly Real Estate Auction

The Franklin County Courthouse Compound is very ImposingEvery Friday, the Franklin County Sheriff auctions off foreclosed properties.  The owners, for whatever reason, have abandoned their homes and stopped paying the mortgage.  Every week many, many homes are on the auction block.  Anyone can go and bid on a property.  Here is where you can find out which properties may be at the next few auctions. Click on Civil Real Estate Sales.

In a nutshell, the auctioneer stands at a podium and reads the address of the property and throws out a number—this is typically an amount at which the bank is agreeable to buying the property back.  In about 90% or more of the cases, the sole bidder for a property is a representative from the lender.  Things move very quickly this way.

You cannot view the inside of the property beforehand — unless you’re brave enough to peek through the windows.  You cannot bid on a property unless you’ve brought the required down-payment with you to the auction.  This usually consists of an arm and a leg, sometimes just an arm will do.  A classic case of the rich getting richer – which is why I’ve never liked Sheriff’s auctions. 

Oh, and you definitely cannot bring a camera to film any of the proceedings or take pictures unless you have express prior consent from the sheriff’s department.  I found this out the hard way as once my camera was spied, the entire proceedings stopped while a sheriff deputy walked up to the podium, whispered with the folks on the dais, walked back to me and asked me to please put away the camera as taking pictures was not allowed.  I countered that it was a public forum and that I should be able to take pictures, right  No, even the media () needs prior approval.  I fought the law, and the law won.

I didn’t buy anything that day and probably never will buy anything in this fashion.  The bargains are there to be had for someone with a hefty down-payment and the where-withal to either move into the property or rehab and sell it or simply sell it right away.  You will need to have your financing in place for the property within 30 days of the auction.

During the hour I was there, the biggest innovator of interest was a vacant lot in Gahanna in a residential subdivision long since built up by MI Homes.  The bidding was fast and furious, starting at $16,000 for the lot that was valued at $41,000 by the auditor and eventually selling to the high bidder for, I think, $21,000.

The Sheriff’s web site is not always super up to date and the best place to look for these properties is in the daily reporter.  The best way to purchase these properties may be to approach the owner before it goes to auction and see if you can work something out with the lender and the owner in default.  These Friday auctions are not for the faint of heart and you’d better know what you’re doing before you show up to bid. 

2 Responses to “A Trip to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Weekly Real Estate Auction”

  1. wow, you guys have it easy. In Las Vegas it’s CASH IN HAND for the entire price of the winning bid. I have friends who carry a million dollars in cashier’s checks to the courthouse every day. They’ve got 100’s and 50’s and 20’s and 10’s, 5’s and 1’s.
    If I could get 30 days to close, with new financing, I’d have clients there every day!

  2. Where are you getting your facts? Great site.

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copyright 2007-2011 Joe Peffer is a Columbus Realtor and Real estate Broker for RE/MAX Town Center in Columbus, Ohio